Photo by Asia Morris from 51st Congressional Cup.
On the opening day of the 52nd Congressional Cup, serving as Stage Two of the World Match Racing Tour (WMRT), a dozen of the world’s top-ranked skippers scrapped through unpredictable winds and head-to-head matches. Johnie Berntsson, fresh off of three days of Ficker Cup Presented by Porsche racing, chased Keith Swinton’s tail during a preliminary tacking match. Berntsson won the heated match, finishing the day 3-2, according to LBYC's post-race report.
Reigning World Champion Ian Williams wrapped up a disheartening 0-5, while Nicolai Sehested, racing in his first Congressional Cup, came out on top at 5-0. Waka Racing’s Phil Robertson was nipping at his heels with a 4-1, alongside Chris Steele, who also finished 4-1. Sally Barkow and her all-women crew accomplished their first and only win of the day against Williams.
With six to eight knot winds from the southwest at the start, providing “classic Long Beach conditions” for the four flights of qualifiers, a sudden shift forced the racers nearly to the sand. After a lengthy postponement the wind shifted right and built to 20-plus knots, creating widespread white caps and splashing water over the bows of the Catalina 37s, according to the post-race report.
The top four after qualifying will advance to the quarterfinals, while competitors ranked five to 12 will sail repechage from which the first four will advance, according to the release.
Hosted by Long Beach Yacht Club, the Congressional Cup will continue through Sunday, April 10. Racing takes place daily beginning at about 11:30AM right off the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier. Spectators can watch the races for free accompanied with live commentary, music and entertainment, refreshments, shaded bleachers, and an enthusiastic crowd of fellow fans.